NHS Direct slashes nurse numbers

NHS Direct has cut the number of nurse advisers it employs by 22 per cent since the end of 2005, official data show.

The number of nurse advisers fell from 1,043 in November 2005 to 810 in September this year, according to a response from health minister Ben Bradshaw to a question this week by Conservative shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley.

Meanwhile, the number of health advisers employed by NHS Direct fell from 679 to 591 over the same period, the figures show.

Monthly staff levels shown in the data reveal a steady reduction over the period, with fewer than 40 staff cut per month in each group. However, the figures show a minor resurgence in staff numbers in February and March this year before the downward trend continued.

A spokeswoman for NHS Direct said recruitment had been frozen as part of a ‘reshaping’ of its workforce to match demand. NHS Direct made 37 nurse advisers and 52 health advisers redundant between May 2006 and March 2007, but now aims to increase staff levels to 738 health advisers and 948 nurse advisers.

nick.bostock@haymarket.com

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